Friday, February 23, 2018

Knitterati 2018 is Coming!

It's that time of year again - Knitterati is making a triumphant return in 2018! Cascade Yarn's wildly popular Knit-Along is set to begin again on March 9th, and we hope that you'll join us for the fun!



Here are the deets: 16 top designers, 16 squares, 20 balls of Cascade 220 Superwash Merino, 1 lapghan, and 1 happy knitter, YOU!

The project this year will be a lapghan, with 16 designers contributing to 16 squares, each square measuring 12". The pattern will be a gradient design, using cables and lace. Gradient designs are one of our personal favorites at the moment, so needless to say, our needles are itching to get to work!



The pattern for the lapghan is free, when you sign-up to receive Cascade's newsletter. Squares will be released every 3 weeks over the next year, giving you plenty of time between clues to complete each square!

With two different color options to choose from, there's something for everyone! The Original Gradient moves from purple to grey to blue to green tones, whereas the Alternate Gradient moves from purpley/pink to gold to blue to green tones. Both options are gorgeous, and the difference is subtle. To make it easy, we've created a kit for each color option on our website, which you can find here!




If neither of these color options strike your fancy, you can give our Customer Service team a call at 877-529-5648, and we'd be happy to help you select your own gradient for the Knit-Along! We can also be reached at support@jimmybeanswool.com.

Which gradient option do you prefer: Original or Alternate?! Let us know in the comments below - we'd love to know your thoughts!

Il Giorno Perfetto: The Perfect Italian Summer Day.





 Il Giorno Perfetto: The Perfect Italian Summer Day.


There's no greater comfort than waking up from the warm sun on your face. I can hear the faint conversation of the cafe owner and a motorcyclist below my window as they sip their espresso. Stepping out from underneath my sheets, the damp, morning chill from the sea hits my skin and I immediately wrap my shawl around my shoulders. Realizing I have yet to get groceries for the weekend, I gather my belongings and make my way to the market for some fresh fruit and milk.





Navigating the market in the morning is not so much intimidating as it is exhilerating. In true Italian fashion, I dodge scooters and listen to the conversations and laughter of old friends. Heading to the fruit first, I can immediately smell the fresh peaches and melon and for a brief moment, I feel like I am completely surrounded by peach trees. These will definitely pair well with fresh yogurt. As I make my way through, I am thankful that my bag is large enough to hold all of the goodies I am bringing back home. I fill my market bag to the brim with fruit, tomatoes, fresh herbs and milk from the local cheese shop and make my way home.







As mid-morning peaks, the heat begins to fill the house indicating that it is time to head to the beach. I pack up my bag, close the shades but leave the windows open so that the sea breeze can come through. The steps to the beach are long and winding but take me through alleyways and past shops I normally wouldn't see. I can hear the waves get louder but the only thing from blocking my view is a long tunnel of Wisteria. 


A sense of immediate relief overcomes me as I walk through the tunnel - my skin has found refuge from the sun underneath the shade. I look to my left, look to my right, and scan the beach for open spaces. The combination of striped umbrellas and striped towels makes it a little bit hard to see, but I find an open space in between a young couple and older woman. I notice the wrinkles in her skin and immediately imagine the colorful life she has lived thus far. 

I doze in and out of sleep as the day carries on, catching glimpses of bright flowers and vines growing along side the colorful houses perched on the mountainside. As the beach begins to empty, the opportunities for people watching begin to dwindle so I finish reading the final 30 pages of Vogue Italia. Closing the last page, I realize that the sun was generous with it's rays and my skin is sensitive to the touch. I pack up my things and begin to head back through the wisteria and up the stairs to my house. 



Unlocking the door, a small rush of cool air combs through my salt-soaked hair and I collapse on the couch, thankful that I left the blinds closed before I left. I can see the colors of the sunset changing on the tile floor, bouncing from pink to orange and I know this will be one of my favorite sunsets. I wrap myself up and head to the balcony. I close my eyes, take a deep breath and I know that this will forever be one of my favorite memories. 





Shop the Story
My time in Italy is where many of my favorite memories come from. These patterns are uncannily similar to many of my closet staples throughout my travels. My personal favorite is the market bag. It is versatile and most importantly easy to pack. My second favorite is having an evening wrap, especially for cooler nights...



The Perfect Market Bag




The Summer Shawl





The Beach Bag





The Evening Wrap





Friday, February 16, 2018

Hygge Happiness

What is hygge exactly? Originating in Denmark, it's the concept of "creating cozy and convivial atmospheres that promote well-being." As knitters, it's likely we're already familiar with this concept, but didn't even realize it! When you engage in an activity or ritual (like knitting!), no matter if you're alone or with friends, at home or your favorite coffee shop, be present in that moment and simultaneously recognize and appreciate that feeling of being present. Slow down and appreciate that you've cultivated a moment or atmosphere that is cozy and special, no matter how simple the scenario. And when that acknowledgment makes life feel less mundane and lifts your spirits? That, my friends, is "hygge." :)



The best part about knitting for me has always been about connecting with a project, especially one that brings to mind a special memory. I think the Fragaria Tee by Berroco, aptly knit in the color Strawberry, accomplishes just that! When I saw it I was immediately reminded of childhood summers in Sweden (my mom is a Swede) picking wild strawberries, swimming in lakes, and of course, all of the Scandinavian homes painted red! Having this project on my needles is just so satisfying!




Here are a few other Berroco projects that for me elicit that same feeling of "hygge!"




Berroco Remix Light




Berroco Catena




Berroco Suede




Berroco Corsica




Berroco Pima 100




Berroco Remix Light




Berroco Modern Cotton


What are some of your favorite knitting rituals? How do you create "hygge" in everyday life? Share in the comments! :)

Happy Chinese New Year!


I got really lucky growing up. My mom is from the United States and a descendent from a long line of vikings from Denmark and Sweden (My great-great grandfather was Rassmussen).

My father was born and raised in Taiwan and moved to the States when he was in his mid-twenties with my grandparents, aunt and uncle. To say I have seen the best of both worlds would be a massive understatement.

My parents, my older sisters and me in San Francisco. 1993.


There are times during the year where yes, we would celebrate Christmas but also celebrate holidays like Chinese New Year. During Chinese New Year, my older sisters and I would recieve little red envelopes from my grandparents with money in them. This symbolized good luck in health and happiness. My favorite part of Chinese New Year? Moon cake. If you haven't heard of it or tried it, I highly recommend it!

Now that we are all older, my favorite part of the holiday remains moon cake but each Chinese New Year, I am reminded of my heritage and how proud I am to be where I am from. I love the traditions that I have grown up with and hope that I can continue them rather than having them be a distant memory when I am feeling nostalgic.

Another thing I love about my heritage? Chinese Horoscopes - I'm a sucker for them! Whether you are a tiger or a horse (like me!), there are little characteristics that are special to each one. Given that Chinese New Year starts today, I thought it might be fun to pick our yarn that matched each horoscope. Find yours below!

Rat

Imaginative, dextrous

Madelinetosh Prarie - Joshua Tree

                                                    Ox

                                                      Dependibility, Strength
Berrocco Gusto - 1988 Lolite




Rooster

Hardworking, resourceful
Anzula Burly Babies - Irene




Dog

Loyal, sincere
Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted - Red Room




Tiger

Confident, authoritative
Madelinetosh Home - Blind Love




Horse

Animated, energetic
Knit Collage Cast Away - Chasing Rainbows




Dragon

Courageous, Tenacious
Berrocco Remix - Strawberry




Pig

Diligent, generous
Malabrigo Mecha - Azul Fresco




Monkey

Ambitious, confident
Rowan Fine Lace - Chalk




Goat

 Perseverance, gentle 
Malabrigo Lace Baby Merino - No Me Olvides




Snake

Enigmatic, intuitive
Madelinetosh TML - Opaline





Rabbit

Skillful, kind
Koigu KPM Solid - 2128


Thursday, February 15, 2018

Knitting Bucket List

As an employee of a yarn and knitting supply mecca (I've been at JBW for almost 6 years!), I get asked the question, "Do you knit?!", a lot. Like, a lot, a lot. It's a reasonable question, so I don't hold it against anyone, but for years, my answer has been along the lines of, "No, I wish!" or "No, I can't quite get the hang of it." - only slightly embarrassing. And, by slightly, I mean incredibly. I am definitely in the minority at JBW, almost all of our employees are fantastic knitters! I constantly feel like I am surrounded by knitting greatness. I'm only slightly jealous (again, I mean incredibly). 

Recently, I decided that I needed to make a change. Knitting was going to happen in my life, and it was going to happen now! 5+ years was too long to be surrounded by beautiful yarn, and not be able to reap the benefits of having gorgeous FO's (see?! I'm picking up on the lingo!). So, I did what any novice would do. I watched YouTube videos. Video after video after video, to be more exact, but I still wasn't quite getting the hang of it. I was convinced that my internal knitter was broken.

My sweet, sweet co-worker, Brittany, took me under her knitting wing. She teaches the Knitting 101 class in our retail shop, and also stars in some of our instructional videos. She is FANTASTIC! She's so kind and patient, and you know what?! She fixed my internal knitter! She very patiently taught me how to long-tail cast on, knit stitch, purl stitch, and the rest is history, friends! I have now successfully knit THREE hats. Yes, if you can picture it, I did just do a triumphant mini-hair flip whilst wearing one of said hats.


My first hat!


Following my knitting trials and tribulations, you can imagine my excitement when we recently received our shipment of Vogue Knitting's The Ultimate Knitting Book. This is THE book to have, if you're a knitter. I feel like I've found the holy grail of knitting technique books! I snagged one immediately, and have been flipping through the pages ever since.




So, here's the skinny; I am determined to become a true, through and through knitter. I know that it won't happen overnight, but I feel confident that, over time, I can use my copy of the book to grow my knitting skills. Who knows, one day I might even be designing my own patterns...sigh, a girl can dream, right?! In the meantime, I've crafted a "Knitting Skills Bucket List" of sorts. These are the skills from the pages I've dog-eared in my own copy of The Ultimate Knitting Book that I am bound and determined to master someday (hopefully sooner, rather than later!). Until then, I'll keep you posted on my progress! :)




What was your first project? What is/was on your "Knitting Skills Bucket List"? Please share with me in the comments!

Hugs and cozy knitting thoughts,
Jessica

Friday, February 9, 2018

Aspire to Inspire: 10 Athletes from the Boys & Girls Club Alumni Hall of Fame


The Boys and Girls Club was founded in 1860 by three women in Hartford, CT - Mary Goodwin, Alice Goodwin and Elizabeth Hammersley. They believed that the youth in their area should have a positive alternative to roaming the streets, and the rest is history! Over the years, the organization has grown from one club to thousands of clubs across the country, but the mission remains the same.


The Boys and Girls Club boasts many impressive members in their Alumni Hall of Fame, but we are especially inspired by the athletes - today is the opening day of the 2018 winter games (you can read more on our recent blog post, "The Games That Must Not Be Named"), after all!

Without further ado, we'd like to introduce you to 10 athletes who recognize the Boys & Girls Club's contribution to their successes:

1. Shaquille O'Neal

Professional Basketball Player

Shaquille O'Neal

Newark, New Jersey Boys & Girls Club

2. Misty Copeland

Principal Dancer, American Ballet Theatre

Misty Copeland

San Pedro, California Boys & Girls Club

3. Michael Jordan

Professional Basketball Player

Michael Jordan

Chicago, Illinois Boys & Girls Club

4. Brooke Bennett

Olympic Gold Medalist, Swimming

Brooke Bennett

Tampa, Florida Boys & Girls Club

5. "Sugar" Ray Leonard

Professional Boxer

Sugar Ray Leonard

Washington, D.C. Boys & Girls Club

6. Kelly Kulick

Professional Bowler

Kelly Kulick

Union, New Jersey Boys & Girls Club

7. Frank Thomas

Professional Baseball Player

Frank Thomas

Columbus, Georgia Boys & Girls Club

8. Bill Walton

Professional Basketball Player

Bill Walton

San Diego, California Boys & Girls Club

9. Evander Holyfield

Professional Boxer

Evander Holyfield

Atlanta, Georgia Boys & Girls Club

10. Jackie Joyner-Kersee

Olympic Gold Medalist, Track & Field

Jackie Joyner Kersee
East St. Louis, Illinois Boys & Girls Club



As part of our Year of Giving, we've partnered with designer, Tanis Gray, and Lorna's Laces to bring you the Whippersnapper Cowl kit! $5 from each kit purchased will be donated directly to the Boys & Girls Club of Truckee Meadows. We hope you'll join us in supporting this wonderful organization!